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Breaking ResemblanceThe Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art$
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Alena Alexandrova

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823274475

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823274475.001.0001

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Veronicas and Artists

Veronicas and Artists

(p.16) Chapter 1 Veronicas and Artists
Breaking Resemblance
Alena Alexandrova
Fordham University Press

Chapter One deals with several central issues with regard to understanding the role of religious motifs in contemporary art. Besides being a repetition of imagery from the past, religious motifs embedded in contemporary artworks become a means to problematise not only the way different periods in the history of art are delimited, but larger and seemingly more rigid distinctions as those between art and non-art images. Early religious images differ significantly from art images. The two types are regulated according to different sets of rules related to the conditions of their production, display, appreciation and the way images are invested with the status of being true or authentic instances of art or sacred images. Chapter One provides a discussion of the important motif of the image not made by an artist’s hand, or acheiropoietos, and its survival and transformation, including its traces in contemporary image-making practices. All images are the result of human making; they are fictions. The way the conditions of these fictions are negotiated, or the way the role of the maker is brought to visibility, or concealed, is a defining feature of the specific regime of representation. While the cult image concealed its maker in order to maintain its public significance, and the later art image celebrated the artist as a re-inventor of the old image, contemporary artists cite religious images in order to reflect on the very procedures that produce the public significance and status of images.

Keywords:   acheiropoietos, art image, authorship, cult image, eras of the image, Holy Face, image-instant, photography, ready-made, regimes of the image, Veil of Veronica

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